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"Cloudcatcher: Horst Antes and the Shift in Painting during the 1960s"
2002-03-24 until 2002-06-16
Sprengel Museum
Hannover, , DE

I stretched the figure like a piece of skin across the canvas and painted it right to the edges until there was no space left. These were the words used by Horst Antes to describe the early stages of the Kopffuessler or Cephalopod. Antes went down in art history as its inventor in the mid-60s.

Antes developed his figure in the post-war years, a period in which abstraction had been largely accepted as the international art idiom. While the figurative was being vigorously purged from the picture, Antes worked obsessively on his body-focused artistic introspection. His first pictures are populated by almost cellular conglomerations. These develop into quasi-embryonic creatures, which increasingly take on a human aspect. In the exhibition we see that these homunculi culminate in a large group of unashamedly erotic female images, the brightly coloured Maya figures. Forming the centrepiece of our Antes exhibition, these are linked to a group of works that revolve around the motif of the eye and the gaze. The dominance of the eye appears to displace the body from the picture. The familiar sight of the bodyless art figure emerges.

For the first time in four decades, we are now retracing the evolutionary passage of the Antes art figure. Figur Wolkenfänger or Cloud-catcher figure, the title of the exhibition, is taken from a painting by Horst Antes. As a linguistic image, it is capable of evoking an impression of the developmental process of the figure from the means at the painter's disposal.

The exhibition focusing on the period from 1958 to 1965 will show about 120 of his paintings and works on paper, some of them lesser-known. These will be juxtaposed with challengingly selected works by his inspirers and fellow wayfarers. In doing so, the exhibition presents an alternative to the until now preferred monographic presentation of Horst Antes' works. Antes' role as the great loner in German art history, his veritably meteoric and internationally acclaimed rise in the 60s, and the phenomenon of his much varied art figure is examined closely and re-assessed in the light of these comparisons.

Antes' creatures will stand alongside works by such artists as Willem de Kooning, Jean Dubuffet, Asger Jorn, Karel Appel, Lucebert, Constant and Antonio Saura. Lively visual contrasts can be expected from Antes' female figures and a number of drastic conceptions of the female form of some of his fellow artists. The inspirational power of primitive cultures, the iconic, and Antes' investigations of the magic of the eye encourage (re-)encounters with the artistic viewpoints of south-west Germany, e.g. Walter Stöhrer, Hans Baschang and Heinz Schanz, with the contemporary figurations of the Munich SPUR group, and international positions such as those of Alan Davie or Enrico Baj. In terms of the creation of Antes' colour cell divisions, the non-figurative works of such artists as Georg Karl Pfahler or Gotthard Graubner present highly exciting disparities. The humour of many theatrical pairings from the mid-60s is just one aspect that invites comparison with works of British Pop Art, e.g. David Hockney.

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